Manchester City's struggle with disenchanted strikers deepened last night with Emmanuel Adebayor effectively on strike and Corinthians tabling a baffling €40m (£35.3m) bid for Carlos Tevez.
Adebayor is likely to be fined at least two weeks wages – £330,000 in total – and may be in breach of contract, after failing to show at Carrington both yesterday and for a scheduled training session on Saturday. The player claims he is considering bringing a constructive dismissal claim, having heard of his omission from the United States tour from a secretary, but City will not release him on the cheap because they know that a Uefa exemption prevents his wages being counted when Financial Fair Play calculations are made.
While the club grappled with the Adebayor problem, the prospect of a deepening struggle with Tevez loomed after the improbable Corinthians bid – faxed last night – which even the club's director of football, Duilio Monteiro Alves, suggested should not raise the hopes of the Brazilian club's fans. "I don't want to get our fans' hopes up. We'll try... that's all I can say," he said. "[Signing Tevez] isn't impossible. It's a dream we're trying to realise."
As The Independent went to press, there had been no City response to the bid, which was not known to all senior executives. The asking price falls short of City's £40-50m demands for the player – and if a deal cannot be secured, it only gives the player more grounds for enmity towards the City chief executive Garry Cook. The Tevez camp insist that Corinthians can afford the player, as they have the fourth most lucrative shirt deal in world football – a £23m deal with Neo Quimica – and secure £50m every year from their TV rights. They spent a Brazilian-record £13.7m bringing the player to Corinthians in 2005, but like every club that Tevez has played for, that ended in rancour. "It's like they don't want an Argentine to succeed in Brazilian soccer. If nothing changes, I think it will be difficult for me to stay," Tevez said of Corinthians in 2006, before leaving for West Ham.
It is also unclear whether Tevez's wages – £250,000 a week – will prove an impediment, when it comes to discussing personal terms or whether City will be tempted to drop their asking price, to remove a crippling wage burden from their balance sheet.
The club are refusing to be held to ransom by any players bought in on expensive salaries by the former manager Mark Hughes two years ago. Though Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bridge and Jo have all resumed training, along with goalkeeper Shay Given, whose move to Aston Villa is progressing, City will not take a hit on their balance sheet by letting them go cheaply – and because of a critical exemption put in place by Uefa's Financial Fair Play (FFP) system, they will not jeopardise their chances of complying with the break-even rules by sitting any them in the stands next season.
Under Annex XI of FFP rules, the wages of any player whose contract was signed before June 2010 does not count towards the profit or loss figure which Uefa will take into account when considering if a club is eligible to play in Europe. Adebayor, Bellamy, Bridge and Given all fall within that category. The FFP rules stipulate that in the first three-year period, clubs will be allowed to lose up to €45m (£41m), reducing to nothing by the 2018-19 season. Uefa's head of club licensing, Andrea Traverso, wants to begin shadowing the club under a "soft implentation" system from this autumn. This £41m figure is gauged by weighing revenue against expenditure on wages and any loss on transfers. Money spent on youth development, stadium improvements or community work does not count.
City's awareness of the new financial regime's exemptions was made clear last Friday by the announcement of a potential £400m sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways, structured around a vast investment in property and infrastructure around the club's stadium, the capital costs of which will not count as "relevant expenses" when Uefa's nine-man Club Financial Control Panel comes to tot up losses.
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